When your child is about 35 inches tall, he should make the transition from a crib to a toddler bed, according to HealthyChildren.org, a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics. If that describes your toddler, you might be wondering if the time is, indeed, right to snuggle him into a brand new toddler bed instead of his crib. Having an idea of what age this usually occurs will help you make a plan to help your toddler take this big step in his development.
When your toddler gets to be about 3 feet tall, he's likely also figured out how to get himself out of his crib. That's not safe because he could fall, which means it's time to start thinking about moving the crib out and moving the toddler bed in. Typically, children reach this height by age 3, but you don't have to wait that long if your toddler seems ready now. In fact, once your little one does teach himself to break out of his crib, you should move him to a bed to ensure his safety, according to KidsHealth.
In addition to preventing dangerous falls, there are other reasons why your toddler should start sleeping in a toddler bed instead of staying in his crib. As your little one gets older and taller, he probably won't be able to sleep as well in his crib as he would a larger toddler bed. If you're working on potty training your child, a bed makes more sense because it allows your child to get up and use the bathroom if he needs to. Your toddler might express a desire to have a big kid bed, which is another reason you should consider making the transition. If you're expecting another baby, and plan to use your toddler's crib, move your child into a toddler bed several months before the baby is born. That will help him adjust to his new big kid role and prevent him from feeling like the new baby is taking his crib away from him.
When you move your child from his enclosed crib to a toddler bed, it's essential to take a few safety steps so your little one's slumber is safe and peaceful. Install bed rails on both sides of the toddler bed, if they aren't part of the bed you choose. While many toddler beds are constructed with rails, others aren't. The rails are easy to install and keep your child from rolling out of his bed while he adjusts to the new sleeping environment. Consider buying a brand new toddler bed, too. Older models can pose safety risks, such as the mattress not fitting correctly, which can pose an entrapment hazard, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. New models meet the strictest safety guidelines, making them as safe as possible. Keep large comforters, blankets, pillows and stuffed animals off the bed, too. While Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is a bigger concern during the first year of life, it's still a hazard for toddlers, too, according to KidsHealth.
Considerations and Tips
Let your toddler help you pick out his new bed, and he'll be more likely to transition easily. Be prepared to return your toddler to bed numerous times when you first make the transition, however. Most toddlers enjoy their new freedom, and get up many times before actually falling asleep. Be patient and consistent when this happens. Gently remind your toddler that it's bedtime, take his hand and return him to bed. Don't engage in play or conversation or your child will just keep getting up. Your toddler needs between 10 and 13 hours of sleep each day, so start the bedtime routine earlier if that's what it takes to ensure that he's still getting the rest he needs.